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The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British heiress accused in the United States of grooming teenage girls for sexual abuse by tycoon Jeffrey Epstein, will begin today in a Manhattan courtroom more than a year after her arrest.
Prosecutors say they will prove that Maxwell helped Epstein — who is said to have committed suicide in a New York jail cell in August 2019 after being charged with sex trafficking of minors — “recruit, groom and ultimately molest” young victims, in some cases 14 years old.
Specifically, they claim she physically transported the young girls to be molested by Epstein, for which she is charged with, among other charges, sex trafficking of minors and enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Several major political and entertainment figures have been linked to Epstein and his sexual exploitation of minors, including Prince Andrew of England — currently charged in another case in New York by one of the businessman’s alleged victims — and former President Bill Clinton.
Some of the first images in which Maxwell and Epstein appear together date from 1992, and it is believed that shortly thereafter they began a romantic relationship.
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Maxwell, who faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted, later became his assistant and, according to the indictment, began helping Epstein recruit young girls for him to sexually abuse beginning in 1994, allegedly until 2004.
The 59-year-old Briton has been behind bars in a Brooklyn correctional facility since her arrest at a mansion in rural New Hampshire in July 2020 after being unaccounted for a year following Epstein’s death.
Daughter of The Daily Mirror‘s former owner, Robert Maxwell, the defendant has repeatedly claimed her innocence during the previous hearings, despite which she has been denied bail on several occasions due to the high risk of flight, given the important connections she has and the three nationalities she holds (British, French and American).
On November 16, the process officially began with the selection of the jury, which the judge in the case, Alison Nathan, decided to make public, despite the fact that Maxwell’s lawyers had requested that it be done behind closed doors to avoid giving greater publicity to a case already extremely mediatic.
Nathan, however, argued that the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects freedom of the press, prevails.
The judge rejected almost all the defense’s requests, such as lifting the anonymity of the victims who will testify in court under a pseudonym, and to protect their identity, she prohibited the work of the so-called “courtroom artists”, hired to draw media cases of which photographs cannot be obtained.